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Mothers Demand Answers After Sons Buried in Hinds County Penal Farm

JACKSON, Miss.—The frustration of Gretchen Hankins, Mary Moore Glenn and Bettersten Wade was palpable inside Stronger Hope Baptist Church in Jackson on Dec. 20, 2023, as the three women stood shoulder to shoulder, holding up pictures of their sons.

All three mothers, alongside attorneys Ben Crump and Dennis Sweet III, demanded answers from local law enforcement and county coroners’ offices about why they did not notify families before burying their sons in the Hinds County Penal Farm.

It’s a saga NBC News first reported in October.

“I feel like Rankin County and Hinds County (officials) are not doing their job at all,” Hankins said. She reported her son Jonathan David Hankins missing last summer to the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department after he didn’t return home following a weekend out with friends.

On Dec. 20, 2023, Gretchen Hankins questioned why it took over a year before she was told what happened to her son, whom she had reported missing in May 2022. An NBC News reporter told her on Dec. 4, 2023, that her son was dead and that Hinds County officials had buried him the previous year at the Hinds County Penal Farm. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

Hankins said she checked with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department periodically to see whether they had any new information about her son. They told her no, she said.

She also posted to social media, asking for anyone who may have information about her son’s whereabouts to contact her.

Over a year later, on Dec. 4, 2023, an NBC News reporter visited her home and informed her that Jackson Police had found her son dead in a hotel on May 23, 2022, and that the Hinds County officials identified his body the previous year.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” Hankins said on Dec. 20. “They’re incompetent, and I will tell them that. I don’t see any sense in that if you know their address, you could’ve went to their house. There’s no sense in just throwing people away like that.”

Jonathan David Hankins is the third man so far that NBC News reported that Hinds County

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